Recognized worldwide for its rigid inflatable hulls, Protector has redesigned its proven Targa line, ensuring that these high-performance boats include some creature comforts.

Protector 410 Targa

Protector 410 Targa

Protector Boats boldly run into rough seas that would keep many weathered boaters home. The New Zealand builder has been manufacturing high-performance rigid inflatable boats for the Coast Guard since the mid-90s, but with proven seakeeping ability, the boats gained worldwide recognition and crossed over into a range of other markets.

Brian Peterson, co-founder of Any Water Yachts, one of two Protector dealers in the U.S., recalls one of his more interesting sales. “A very large commercial fishing company out of Alaska was buying the boats because the competition was listening in on their VHF about where to reach their fishing boats,” Peterson says. “They bought Protectors so they could put their guys on them, and instead of using the VHF they could just run to the fishing captains and communicate with them verbally. Those guys slept on these boats out in the Gulf of Alaska.”

When they sea-trialed their boats in San Francisco, there were 10- to 15-foot seas outside the Golden Gate Bridge. The waves crashed over the boats and filled the cockpit with water, but the guys were smiling, telling Peterson that these conditions were nothing compared to what they would be taking the boats through in Alaska.

Protector boats are meant to withstand large seas at speed, and the secret is in the hull design. The boats have extremely deep V-hulls that slice through the water, and the tube set takes the beating from the ocean. “What Protector, in my opinion, has done exceptionally better than any other RIBs out there is actually design the boat around the tubes,” says Peterson. “On the majority of the bigger RIBs in the marketplace, you can tell the boat was built and then the tubes were attached after the fact.”

Protector offers two lines of vessels: their Chase line of center consoles and their Targa line with hardtop cabins. The Targa line includes four models ranging from 31 to 41 feet, and the entire fleet recently underwent a complete redesign above the waterline to improve upon its 20 years of proven success. Peterson and Any Water Yachts co-founder Andrew Carleton have been urging Protector to put more amenities on the boats since they began working with them more than 15 years ago, and although the company does not like to put anything on board that cannot withstand rough weather, they followed their advice to soften the interior and upgrade some other features.

Protector started by making new molds for the areas above the waterline. They made the windscreens significantly stronger, offset and deepened the companionway to provide more headroom in the cabin and give the owner more real estate at the dash, and added cup holders and other creature comforts. Protector also made a slight change to the hulls on the larger Targas.

“On the 380 and the 410, they flared out the hull right above the waterline, so the performance of the hull remains the same, but they increased the deck space without adding much beam,” says Peterson. That passageway was narrow on the old models, but passengers will now be able to walk around the cabin on the exterior to get to the forward sunpad without stepping on the tubes.

The entire mold of the rooftop was also completely redesigned to make the boats more modern-looking and angular rather than rounded, and Protector added a sliding sunroof to the cabin. “Our customers have been asking for a sunroof forever, and we ended up cutting our own holes in the rooftops and trying to do it custom,” Carleton says. “Now they just fully integrated it to let more air and sunlight into the cabin.” The stainless steel grab rails have also been fully integrated into the fiberglass of the rooftop, which makes for clean lines compared to the older models, on which handrails were bolted.

Although Protector did not touch the Targa line’s running surface, the upgrades should slightly improve the ride. “They increased the overall stiffness of the cabin structure where it connects to the hull,” says Carleton, “so the boat is going to have a different character that will make it a smoother ride overall and enhance the toughness and durability so it’s even stronger than it was before.”

Peterson and Carleton ran one of the first prototypes in New Zealand, and Carleton reports that it “handled amazing, absolutely amazing.” They were running the boat full throttle at 70-plus knots on a calm day when they encountered 4-foot wakes, which the boat cut through easily without slowing down.

With a max-horsepower rating of 1,350, the Targa boats can easily hit speeds of 70 mph-plus without compromising comfort. “It’s like you’re driving a car,” Peterson says. “You don’t realize you’re going as fast as you are in nasty conditions. You don’t feel the elements on your face. It’s just slicing through the waves and absorbing all the shock.” Still, most customers don’t need their boats outfitted for maximum speed. Any Water Yachts configures many Targas for customers with a pair of 200s, and the smaller boats are perfectly balanced with 300s or 350s on the stern.

Any Water Yachts’ largest market is New England and the Mid-Atlantic, from Maine to Maryland. Some open boats go to Florida, but Peterson says they’re most popular in chilly environments with rough conditions. While some Protectors are still used for police work and search-and-rescue, today they mostly serve as recreational vessels, and many of Any Water Yachts’ Boston clients use their boats to run up to their vacation homes in Maine in a fraction of the time it would take them to drive. Protectors are also popular tenders for America’s Cup vessels.

Peterson and Carleton plan to debut the redesigned Targa line at the Newport Boat Show in the fall. “These boats were meant to be seen,” says Peterson. “Once people experience the ride of the boats, it’s an easy sell. It gives you a sense of security in any type of conditions.”

Protector 310

Specifications: 310 Targa

LOA: 30’6”
Beam inflated: 9’6”
Beam deflated: 8’3”
Draft: 25”
Displ.: 7800 lbs.
Fuel: 130.5 gal.
Max HP: 800
Cruising speed: 28 knots
Top speed: 60+ knots

Protector 330

Specifications: 330 Targa

LOA: 33’6”
Beam inflated: 9’6”
Beam deflated: 8’3”
Draft: 25”
Displ.: 9500 lbs.
Fuel: 177 gal.
Max HP: 800
Cruising speed: 28 knots
Top speed: 56 knots

Protector 380

Specifications: 380 Targa

LOA: 38’6”
Beam inflated: 13’0”
Beam deflated: 11’4”
Draft: 23”
Displ.: 14500 lbs.
Fuel: 264 gal.
Max HP: 1350
Cruising speed: 28 knots
Top speed: 47 knots

Protector 410

Specifications: 410 Targa

LOA: 41’
Beam inflated: 13’0”
Beam deflated: 11’4”
Draft: 23”
Displ.: 17500 lbs.
Fuel: 317 gal.
Max HP: 1350
Cruising speed: 28 knots
Top speed: TBD

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